What makes for leadership? Israel & cleantech

CNBC television recently featured Israeli cleantech. A global leader in the fields of desalination, non-fossil cars, desalination, solar energy and more.

The question is how does a country of 7.5million people learn to provide electricity for most of California, a top 10 global economy?

A previous CNBC story pointed to many structural aspects within Israel, which has enabled the country to be one of the first to emerge from the global recession. But to be a leader! That implies a reservoir of talent, gushing out in to a new arenas.

Academics have often sought to identify what makes a good leader. A classic pitch from the Harvard Business Review recalls that “leadership is about coping with change.”

Dr Robert Brooks is one of my favourite writers on the themes of self-esteem and resilience. In his latest article, He recalls new work at MIT, which is now emphasising graduates who will also becomes leaders. And I quote:

Bernard Gordon, a 1948 graduate of MIT whose $20 million gift helped to launch this new program, is acutely aware of the need to nurture people skills…….. “Most new companies fail despite assembling a group of smart engineers because no one is comfortable shouldering the responsibilities of leadership”.

Gordon’s observations about the skills required of engineers parallel those posited by Goleman under the labels of emotional and social intelligence as do the following list of abilities that the leadership program at MIT is addressing:

  • Ability to assess risk and take initiative.
  • Willingness to make decisions in the face of uncertainty
  • Urgency and the will to deliver objectives on time in the face of constraints or obstacles.
  • Resourcefulness and flexibility.
  • Trust and loyalty in a team setting.
  • Relating to others.

Many of these six characteristics can be found in typical Israeli. No; empathy and interpersonal skills are not acceptable traits in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. But it is a country that has learnt to deal with risk and uncertainty, facing the challenge of resource and geopolitical constraints. And the way to accomplish these things is through teamwork.

This coming week sees Israel’s premier exhibition for the year; Watec. Thousands of delegates will arrive from overseas to learn for themselves how the Holy Land is leading the world in water conservation and similar techs. 

Just imagine how far further Israel could be if she alos excelled at interpersonal skills.

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One Comment on “What makes for leadership? Israel & cleantech”

  1. Mitzimi Says:

    Interesting point you make … if we only had those excellent interpersonal skills maybe we wouldn’t just be supplying electricity, we’d finally truly be a light unto the nations …

    Thanks for some thought-provoking posts.


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